“He that seeketh findeth“, right? We have our almighty TGIF1) day, today. And I was looking for some real sturdy Extreme Metal. A sharply pointed something to soothe my soul with. To fight fire with lava hot metal heat, that kind of thing. It burns pressure and depression off your back in one go, like one of those massages. But let’s not go there. This is a music blog.
Well, Sweden turned out to be the destination, and Svederna the target. A band that, in late August 2020, somewhat carelessly threw their newest Black Metal piece Härd onto an already smoking hot market.
In a way, the record didn’t quite reinvent the wheel. Instead, you will find a somewhat ubiquitous piece of Black Metal with some subtle, yet significant refinements. But, it also is that dense construct, this cocksure intensity that the band constantly launches at you with a lot of gusto. And this is what really awoke that unholy hunger for more in our crew.
You see, we just had a run-in with the tech death crowd. Those that think anything complicated is good and helter-skelter the standard. Yet, if you look for true and artful dissonance, then there’s nothing better than Black and Extreme Metal. Of the brand that only our Scandinavian brethren are capable of.
And I like the credo that Svederna would like to keep – and I quote – “an organic, raw, and clear sound, letting the songs speak for themselves with a sense of urgency and vitality”. Well, mission fucking accomplished, Härd is all that.
And as often is the case, Black Metal bands follow a theme or – failing that – a philosophy of sorts. Interestingly, the down-in-the-pit demon-loving, ritual bands seem to become the juicy minority. In contrast, describing grand landscapes and nature or doomsday scenarios seem to be on the uptick. And Svederna drives down the thorny road of the latter2). Which gives their tune purpose, purchase, and all that high-octane fuel other records crave.
Härd stumps forward with a fiery power that would make the pioneers of the Scandinavian Black Metal art proud. Truly, the old masters like Bathory lurk somewhere in the background. But this gluttony of overheated metallic elements really rumbles down its very own path to glory.
And Härd definitely isn’t one of those records that somehow suffer from an identity crisis. The band took what bubbled up from the past and added their own take for good measure. And whilst some of their offerings almost go Post Black, suddenly you will find old-style injection that will thaw your frozen heart. Like at the start of Urkvedsljuset where the old masters beckon you. Just to disintegrate all that into thrashy Extreme Metal a bit later.
But there’s more. You’ll suddenly find little blurbs of a rockier kind in all that old-style heap of rusty, overheated metal. And throughout those different tracks, they inject subtle melodic parts that never gripe. Yet, this is all pretty discreet without diluting the pure message of raw, brutal aggression.
This band doesn’t want to do anything else than play that in-your-face Black Metal, without all those ornaments others like to adorn themselves with. And they’re not coy about it either.
Now, if you think the masters of screams only live in Metallica’s realm, come again. The relentless assault of the vocalist almost overwhelms the game at times. None of those typical rasps reside here. Instead, you’ll find screams that rather service their punkish origins through some sort of hardcore and shouted lyrics than anything else.
That said, Härd features a goodly portion of the repetition bug. Pretty much all of the tracks sound like cut from the same cloth. And some come with an injection of a slightly different shade, I give them that. But this also means that 50 minutes of intense and unchanging airplay may prove a mighty stretch for their fans’ attention span. But what can you do when your rage is endless, right? Scream it mercilessly to the world, or else.
In the end, however, Svederna provided exactly what we were looking for on that dreary end of the week. A blazing hot cauldron of steaming molten metal. Black Metal rooted in the glorified, gory, church burning past, yet with a somewhat careless veneer of the present. The outcome is brutal, abrasive, raw, scratchy, and totally intense. Yet in a way, this is also the Black Metal that we often crave but seldom get. And it’s just perfect for a rainy Friday in the terrible year of the Dark Lord of 2020.